me—but there was consolation. The Drive-In at Broad and Milledge remained. When Bill Griffin, native of Rutledge who settled in Pittsburgh, reached a milestone birthday, he could have experienced an unforgettable meal anywhere from Manhattan to Manhattan Beach, but he chose the Varsity.
We didn’t like it when Tony’s Restaurant on Clayton Street closed. When Poss’ Barbecue Restaurant on the Atlanta Highway shut down, when Moon-Winn Drug Store downtown bit the dust, but this is the mother of all “going out of business” downers.
Nothing lasts forever except, perhaps, the hedges of Sanford Stadium. George Suddath, a son of Epp, who now resides in Raleigh, N. C., is an avid sports memorabilia collector. He started working for his father at the Varsity when he was 12-years-old, pointing out that that was legal if your family owned or ran a business.
“It was so much fun,” George remembers. “The cash registers they have today make it easy, but when I started out at the Varsity we had to calculate everything in our head. Then add tax to the total and make change.” He remembers that Friday nights before game day, the employees made ham and chicken salad sandwiches all night long. He also recalls the time a Varsity insider named Skeet Nunnelly made 3,000 hotdogs on a football Saturday. That record is still intact. The Varsity would cash checks. Woe be unto the student who wrote a bad check. In those “in loco parentis” days, all Epp had to do was take the bad check over to the office of William Tate, the colorful Dean of men, who would summon the miscreant and say: “Hand over the cash or hand over your student ID card.” The threat of getting kicked out of school made model citizens out of many campus reprobates. The legend of the Varsity is worthy of an unabridged volume or two.
If there is a new venue, as I have heard bandied about, I’ll show up for two steaks through the garden and bow in memory of Epp, Brown, Doyle and others. It is hard on the heart when you lose dear friends, even if it is a naked steak. Err, Sally Rand.